Who do you feel less sorry for? The man driven out of his clamping business because the government clamped down on extortionate bills – or Israel Folau?
Folau, surely, though maybe only by a short nose.
Clamping is a loathsome, invasive practice abused by some miserable specimens, with tales of people being charged over $700 to free their cars. That didn't include the bloke quoted from Mt Maunganui this week who was nonetheless unintentionally funny when he said his clamping business wasn't viable because now he can only charge $100 instead of the usual $250.
Well, it made me laugh. I mean…$250 for illegal parking? In Mt Maunganui? Give me a break, even if you do occasionally wish some of the brass necks who park their car anywhere they please would meet the clamp from hell.
Clamping guy said: "… the government has taken away the rights of normal hardworking Kiwis who they are calling bottom-feeders and given those rights to those who have no respect for other people's private property and park were they want…I now have around 30 customers who now have no way of stopping people parking in their car parks."
Uh, yeah, they do. Clamping is still a deterrent – it's just that no one can now charge more than $100. The business, the disgruntled owner said, was undermined because most of the $250 went in wages (having someone there between 8am-5pm), time spent on small claims cases, replacing broken or stolen clamps, administration and dealing with "a barrage of nasty emails".
Most businesses need staff, unless I am much mistaken. If that business is so invasive it sparks small claims issues, the odious clamps are damaged or nicked and the operators cop abusive emails – all that might be a bit of a clue you're in an unpopular and unrewarding industry and that costs might accrue because of the very nature of the business.
I mean, it's like taking up a career as an assassin and then complaining that people don't like you very much and the dry cleaning to get rid of all that blood is prohibitively expensive.
However, there is one place I fondly hope a clamp could be applied: Israel Folau's mouth.
Let's not go back over all that stuff about Folau saying that gay people will go to hell unless they repent. That led to him being sacked by Rugby Australia which in turn has meant he is claiming A$14 million in damages from them.
He was back in the headlines recently, claiming in a sermon that Australia's horror bushfires (six dead, many homes destroyed, misery aplenty) had been provoked by the decision to pass abortion and same-sex marriage laws – going against "God's word".
"Look how rapid, these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come, in a short period of time. You think it's a coincidence or not?" he said. "God is speaking to you guys."
He didn't say – and I'd be interested to know – whether he thought the death of Lewis the koala also came about for those reasons. Lewis, you may recall, was the koala badly burned in the bushfires, becoming a symbol of the devastation and misery caused. About 1000 koalas died and if that's part of God's great plan, perhaps Folau could explain that one to us too.
This week Folau also made jaws drop when he hiked his claim against Rugby Australia from A$10m to A$14m because of lost sponsorship dollars, missed revenue from World Cups and millions gone because he might have played for an overseas club for 2-3 years after his RA contract expired.
He said he might have captained the Wallabies at the World Cup – an even more entertaining claim than clamping being an industry too expensive to pursue. Captain Israel? I can find no record anywhere of anyone ever suggesting Folau as a candidate for captaining the Wallabies. I think if you disinterred Ned Kelly and super glued him back on his horse, he'd have more chance than Cap'n Izzy.
Folau could play for Tonga – his parents were born there – although the cheques would be a lot smaller. Unless there's a reason I can't discern, he could also go and play for any overseas club that would have him. Someone would, surely.
Or he could go to France or the UK, play Super League for three years (they haven't said he'd be banned), qualify as a resident and pick up his international rugby career. Sonny Bill Williams' Toronto Wolfpack might be interested…
His adjusted claim is likely part of a manoeuvre from a legal team seeking to add to Cap'n Izzy's reputed net worth of A$7m, possibly by an out-of-court settlement with RA as, in court, they might have a job to do in the credibility stakes after the captaincy thing made people laugh out loud – and with Cap'n Izzy lobbing out sermons that the bushfires were sent because naughty Australia departed from God's word.
Whatever happens, the whole ugly business makes me hope that Cap'n Izzy emerges from negotiations or the courthouse only to find his car clamped. Now that'd be a sign.